Published Jun 29, 2010

Anderson Field Day

By Luke Gran



25 folks descended upon the farm near Cherokee, IA to review PFI beginning farmer Nathan Anderson’s pasture rehabilitation efforts and its suite of research projects to find out how to build a higher productivity pasture.






In a well organized, relaxed and engaging style, Nathan led a tour of pastures on the perimeter of the farm describing the production history, treatments made to reclaim/rehabilitate/refurbish old continuously grazed pasture, and the future plans. Karl Dallefeld (fellow PFI member) provided Nathan with one-on-one farm production assistance, advice, and things to consider.




Many PFI grazier “celebrities” were in attendance including Pharo Cattle Company’s Steve Reinart (above center), PFI Board Member Dan Wilson, grazier member Larry Knaack (below Left), and more.



Here are the top 11 lessons learned:
  1. Warm and Cool Season grasses can work together in the same pasture if cattle are removed from the paddock with at least 6 inches remaining.
  2. Botany is a graziers friend; identification of grasses, forbs, sedges, and tree species is the key to good management
  3. Roll out a bale of hay on trouble areas then let the cows work it to get organic matter incorporated into the soil
  4. There is cost share available thru the NRCS to help pay for pasture reclamation projects, for brush removal, even seeding help. Contact your county office today.
  5. There is no one answer for pasture rehabilitation. Seeding times of year vary depending on the situation; however, no-till drills are great. Frost seeding works well, especially for interseeding legumes such as red clover or alfalfa.
  • It is important to know what your starting point is in order to assess the success of any management changes. This means soil sampling, monitoring plant productivity and animal performance, and quantifying plant, bird, insect, and animal diversity.
  • Periodic soil sampling is crucial, including a full set of tests that includes organic matter, micronutrients (Calcium, Magnesium) and more
  • Pasture goals will vary by type of animal and enterprise. Cow/calf enterprises will not need the same nutritional quality as grass finishing enterprises.
  • Cattle will graze weeds at high stock densities. Clipping is an alternative non-chemical method.
  • Implementing rotational grazing and longer rest periods can encourage increased plant diversity without any additional seeding necessary.
  • Both Iowa Secretary of Agriculture candidates Francis Thicke, and Bill Northey, are longtime PFI members – so you should be too!


Kevin Dietzel (left) shown here with Nathan Anderson discussing research transects and diversity counts made to track forage quality over time.


Anderson Beef hamburgers and a country grill-out was a real treat.
Kyle Dallefeld is set to graduate with an accounting degree. He works for his father’s (Karl) seed business “Prairie Creek Seed” and enjoys grasslands.
Joel feeds holstein cattle on his acreage in Northwest Iowa.
Beginning farmers have options, skills, and abilities to compliment existing enterprises. PFI has the beginners and the network with experienced farmers to help you be successful.